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Note 103 – What does ‘hopefully’ actually mean?

Hopefully is a misused adverb meaning “with hope”, according to Strunk & White in their book The Elements of Style.  Strunk & White explains that this meaning “has been distorted and is now widely used to mean ‘I hope’ or ‘it is to be hoped’”.

Here are some examples in sentences:

  • I will get to work on time hopefully
  • Hopefully it will be sunny in the morning

Translated correctly, the first sentence means ‘I will get to work on time with hope’. What it doesn’t mean is ‘I will get to work on time I hope’.  The correct meaning of the second sentence is ‘With hope it will be sunny in the morning’ not ‘I hope it will be sunny in the morning’.

The online Free English Dictionary agrees with the above for its first definition, but also shows a second definition of “it is hoped”.  The explanation given is that this second definition is generally accepted as the informal way of using hopefully.

My thoughts: I suppose that if you don’t want to be caught out by critics, use ‘hopefully’ only when it means ‘with hope’ but if you are just writing informally you could do either.  I would be interested to know your thoughts?

That’s it for today. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page.

Until tomorrow…


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Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White The Elements of Style, fiftieth anniversary edition (2009), USA

The online Free English Dictionary


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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